When it comes to research, I don’t think the web has been an improvement. I recognize it makes things so much easier, but you know what? Sometimes easier is not better. The fact that you used to have to go to a library, you’d have to research things … it was an exercise to have to do that. Nowadays, you have something you want to check, you just plug in a fact into Google search and ten thousand sites come up.… Any statement you want to make … you could have ten thousand citations in your footnote. The citations are completely worthless, but they’re citations.
A student makes hundreds of pages of photocopies and takes them home, and the manual labor he exercises in doing so gives him the impression that he possesses the work. Owning the photocopies exempts the student from actually reading them. This sort of vertigo of accumulation, a neocapitalism of information, happens to many. Defend yourself from this trap: as soon as you have the photocopy, read it and annotate it immediately. If you are not in a great hurry, do not photocopy something new before you own (that is, before you have read and annotated) the previous set of photocopies. There are many things I do not know because I photocopied a text and then relaxed as if I had read it.